It begins with training the lower body, core and upper body muscles for optimal performance on the tennis court. Not only does a well planned tennis training program benefit a player at any level, but a well designed series of tennis exercises for beginners can have a dramatic impact on a player’s ability to play better tennis. The following tennis exercises for beginners cover a full body workout and the essentials that every player needs to incorporate into his or her tennis training program.
Importance of Tennis Exercises For Beginners
When watching tennis on TV, it looks like the players rely so much on their arms. They see Rafael Nadal with his huge left arm and think that he must be relying on arm strength to generate power on his signature forehand. For many beginners, they tend to copy only what they think they’re seeing so they end up swinging the racket with their arms only. They don’t use their whole bodies.
There’s no shift in weight from the back to the front leg, no shoulder turn, no trunk coil. So when they find that their shots are not as strong as they’d want, they resolve to strengthen their arms and concentrate only on that area when they lift weights. In reality, tennis exercises for beginners involves exercises that should target the whole body and concentrate on the parts that are most under stress when hitting the various strokes.
Many people take up sports like tennis because they think it is a fun way to get into shape. Tennis is indeed a fun activity but it should be seen more as a means to stay in shape, not get into shape. If a player isn’t in shape and he or she begins to take up the sport, there is a danger that injuries might occur. If that happens, the player will think that taking up tennis could be more harmful than helpful.
Tennis Exercises For Beginners in Fitness
Players should get fit to play tennis, and not the other way around. On the other hand, if the exercises for tennis are too intimidating for someone who does not have much experience with any fitness program, he or she will think that it is too much work and be discouraged. Therefore, an ideal program of tennis exercises for beginners must be designed in a way that will be easy to follow while at the same time building the requisite fitness level for playing the sport.
At higher or more competitive levels of play, tennis players design fitness programs that are broken into parts. This is called periodization. This breaks the program into three main periods – a period where foundational strength is built, followed by maximum strength training and, lastly, power and endurance. The human body requires constant maintenance so this periodization is a cycle that goes on and on season after season. During the off season, players take a vacation from playing and tend to relax. They do not work so much on their fitness. There is real possibility of falling out of shape.
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Periodization
When tournament season starts again, they will need to reorient their bodies and get fit again. Periodization takes care of this by designating a time for the player to get fit again after taking a break from the game. They go back to the first part of the periodization cycle. A fitness program of tennis exercises for beginners can be patterned after the first part of the cycle which is the building of foundational strength.
Building foundational strength for tennis aims to condition the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments for the strains of playing tennis. Tennis is a sport that uses some muscles more than others. If a person relies solely on tennis to get fit, he or she will have uneven development of his or her body.
This makes him or her prone to injuries, especially repetitive stress injuries like tennis elbow or even rotator cuff injuries. Tennis exercises for beginners aims to build a strong foundation for playing tennis with minimal worry about the risk of getting injuries.
The duration of building foundational strength is variable, depending on the initial fitness level of the individual and his or her response to the program. It may take 2 months or much more and some adjustments may need to be made while undergoing the program. Ideally, there should be close monitoring of the person’s development and progress.
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Warm Up Exercises
Tennis exercises for beginners should always start with a proper warm up of light aerobic activity. Jogging in place, skipping rope and spending time on the exercise bike are different ways to do this. The important thing to remember is to keep it light, not vigorous. Once the player is warmed up properly, he or she can proceed to weight training.
The objective of weight training is to increase the overall strength of the entire body by building the major muscle groups. Weights shouldn’t be too heavy. In fact, the resistance should only be about half or even less of the maximum that the player can do with one repetition.
It is better to test an individual’s maximum capability and then design the program based on that. But for most people, they just start by using the 5 pound dumbbell. The problem with this approach is that it might be too light and consequently not provide any strength building. It would be just a waste of time.
After determining the individual player’s capacity, the correct weight can be used. The following list is a set of tennis exercises for beginners that would be most beneficial when used with the correct weight. The list is divided into exercises for each body area:
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Lower Body Exercises
- Squats with free weights
- Lunges with free weights
- Calf raises – for beginners, standing machine calf raises are recommended over using free weights because these minimize the risk of injury by providing greater stability and support)
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Core Exercises
Core (abdominals and lower back)
- Sit ups with twist – this is a better exercise for tennis because it involves the obliques more and this is important for the trunk twisting required for properly executing tennis strokes)
- The Superman exercise – lie face down on the floor and lift your arms and legs off the ground, holding for a few counts. If this is too difficult, start by lifting only the right arm and the left leg, alternating with the left arm and right leg.
- Back extensions on a stability ball
Tennis Exercises For Beginners- Upper Body Exercises
- Bench press or push ups – for the chest and arms
- Dumbbell rows – for upper back and arms
- Shoulder presses – for shoulders and arms
- Upright barbell rows – for shoulders and trapezius
- Bicep curls
The aforementioned tennis exercises for beginners should be performed about two times a week to allow ample time for recovery between sessions. Each of the exercises should be done for 2 to 3 sets with each set consisting of 10 to 15 repetitions. As already mentioned, the weight used should be about half (40-50%) of the individual’s maximum capability. The rest interval between sets should be about a minute to 90 seconds.
The following body areas require special attention for tennis players and are critical for avoiding injuries especially for beginners when techniques are still not developed.
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is so important for any tennis player. This should be immediately included in any set of tennis exercises for beginners.
However, it is imperative that only light weights should be used. Even at advanced levels, only 5 pound weights are recommended for these exercises. These exercises should be done 3 times a week. The usual recommendation is to do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions per session.
- External Rotation – lie on one side and hold the dumbbell with the opposite arm. With the elbow at 90 degrees and kept tucked to the side, rotate the arm outward and return to start position. Perform a set and change sides.
- Internal Rotation – lie on one side of a bench; hold the dumbbell with the arm of the same side. Keep the elbow at 90 degrees and tucked close to the side. Start with the forearm below parallel to the floor then rotate the arm upward and back to starting position. Perform a set and change sides.
- Horizontal Rotation – stand with elbows at shoulder level and bent forward at 90 degrees. Hold the weights in each hand and externally rotate them upward before returning to starting position.
Tennis Exercises For Beginners – Wrist & Forearm
Like the rotator cuff exercises, these should be done with light weights, but advanced or stronger players can use more than 5 pound weights for these exercises. These should also be performed around 3 times a week. Each session should include 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- Wrist curls
- Wrist extensions or reverse wrist curls
- Wrist rotations– hold a light bar like a broom and sit down with one hand on your knee holding the end of the broom handle. The forearm should be flat on the knee. The broom handle should point directly up. Rotate your wrist to the left and then to the right. The broom handle will rotate from pointing directly up to pointing directly out to the left and then to your right. Change hands.
These specific exercises should serve only as a guide for creating an individualized program of tennis exercises for a beginner.
It is also important to remember that any fitness program should be embarked upon only after proper medical consultation and evaluation. The benefits of these exercises cannot be stressed enough in order to maximize the fun of learning tennis.
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